There is no denying that pre-production and the actual filming of movies is incredibly important to the finished product. However, all of that work would be meaningless if it was not edited together in a coherent and skilled manner. In addition to simply putting the scenes in chronological order, editing, when done right, can evoke emotions that would otherwise not be felt without a skilled editor.
Born of the Fourth of July (1989) is a film that deals with the intricacies of the Vietnam War. It confronts difficult questions such as what it truly means to be a patriot. It stars the ever-enigmatic Tom Cruise in the lead role, playing a returned soldier angry and confused at his country. It is a strong performance that helps to show the audience the debilitating effects of being injured in war.
But the strongest aspect and the reason why it took home the Oscar, is the skill put into the editing of the film. From the soundtrack, which is overlaid perfectly with the events taking place on screen, to the chaotic protest scenes in which the viewer feels just as scared and confused as those going through it, the editing transforms this movie from good to great. It takes a huge amount of skill to put together something that is clear and makes sense when simply given B-roll footage that has no meaning without context. While a director has a vision for what a film should look like, it is up to the editor to realize that vision in a way that makes sense to the audience.
This movie won two Oscars at the 1990 Academy Awards, which also included Best Director in Oliver Stone. The two editors that worked on the film, Joe Hutshing and David Brenner and both have extensive experience in Hollywood. While this was Brenner’s first and only Oscar, he has worked on such films as Independence Day, Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Joe Hutshing has won one other Oscar for his editing on JFK.